Ambassador Steven Wondu: Who are the “Garang’s Boys”?

Posted: October 15, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Books, Editorials, Featured Articles, History

Garang’s Boys: John Garang’s Orphans Beyond his Natural Household

This is an excerpt from Ambassador Steven Wondu’s book: “From Bush to Bush: Journey to Liberty in South Sudan.”[1]

John Garang

John Garang’s prophecy

October 15, 2016 (SSB) —- On 29th July 2005, information came that a helicopter Dr. John Garang was travelling in had disappeared. It left Entebbe late afternoon but had not landed at its destination in New Site in Eastern Equatoria. Its whereabouts and fate were unknown. The next day on 30th July, we were told that the helicopter had crashed somewhere in the Imatong Mountains. All passengers and crew, including our leader, had perished. The news of John Garang’s death was devastating.

I was angry, confused and broken. I blamed him for not having been more careful. Did he not know that he had many powerful enemies out there? “We told you…oh foolish man…why did you not travel with Bior Ajang, Deng Alor or any senior officer who could stop you from travelling at night in bad weather? You gave all your life and energy to the struggle and now you allow yourself to be killed at this moment! What happens to the peace agreement now?

Why did you not form the government of Southern Sudan at least? What future does Southern Sudan have without you? Oh…! Oh…! Chairman! You knew that airplanes are not good; we almost crushed in Dakar, you escaped death in a plane that plunged into the ocean in Abidjan a few years ago! Why did you not drive, walk…anything? They got you! They got you! They got you! We are finished! O God! How can you be so cruel to us?”

Our group in Pretoria had to come to terms with the reality that John Garang the man was no more. With the encouragement of Professor Shadrack Gutto, an expert on the Sudan; former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, a great admirer of John Garang, and other friends, we decided to continue with the training programme. We wanted to demonstrate our determination to sustain the legacy of our leader and the thousands of other heroes who fell on the road to the Promised Land! At the end of the course, I went to Juba to find out what my role would be in the post-war interim government.

I soon discovered that the death of John Garang had created orphans beyond his natural household. The center of power had shifted past Salva Kiir to elements not well known for their loyalty to the fallen leader and the central agenda of the SPLM-SPLA. The “Garang Boys” as his closest aides were mockingly renamed, had been sidelined. Things were a lot worse for those of us who lacked aggressive tribal bases.

A person I had regarded as a friend during the struggle proudly told me that he had vetoed my appointment as Auditor General in the Government of Southern Sudan. The same person or other friends of mine deflected my nomination as Minister of State in the Government of National Unity to a candidate of their preference. They said I was ineligible because I was not from the right tribe.

During the war, we were one body, the SPLM-SPLA. After the agreement, ethnicity became the defining factor in the allocation of public offices. During the struggle, each member of the SPLM-SPLA was a servant of the motherland. After the agreement, the motherland was tossed up for grabs, and grabbed it was. If a person hailed from a small feeble community, the country could be deprived of his/her service. Only the future will tell if this ideology will stand the tide of democracy and the challenges of nation building.

Having seen what was happening after Garang’s death, I went to Washington only to find that I had been replaced without the common courtesy of notification. I packed one bag and returned to Juba in February 2006. I did not want the crisis to force me into exile in the United States. I wanted to be home to witness the carving of the carcass of the elephant, share stories with colleagues and gulp beer to palliate our pain.

We adopted a common name at the orphanage—places we used to congregate in Juba. Everyone was called Abau Jadau Nesitu (Rejected, Discarded, Forgotten). It was not all ‘idle garrulous talk’ at the orphanage. We had to device a strategy of how to return to the center. The guiding principle in our discourse was to ensure the survival of our most cherished achievement; the peace agreement and our gradual recovery of power to ensure its implementation.

We could not trust some of the characters who had taken advantage of John Garang’s death and seized the front row in the chamber of leadership. They did not know the fine print and the silent provisions of the peace agreement. John Garang had said that during the interim period, the people who created the agreement must take full responsibility for its implementation.

They were the ones who knew where the obstacles were and how to circumvent them. He gave the illustration of a man sleeping in a dark room. If he is the owner of the room, he can find his way to the door without stumbling on the furniture and breaking the glasses. A stranger would not be able to find a safe way to the door.

On the basis of this logic it was our duty to pull the strangers out of that room before dark.

[1] Steven Wondu, From Bush to Bush, page 244-250

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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Comments
  1. Truthhurt says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on this Ambassador Wondu,I feel and share your disappointment on the way this hard-earned nation is being run. I know majority if not all of those strangers had no idea of who did what during the war of liberation to do all they did to you otherwise, your historic coverage of that horrible man-made famine as well as atrocities committed by the Arab sponsored militia in Bhar El Gazalle region in the 1990s through international media could have been enough reason for those thugs to treat you fairly than alien!!!

    Like

  2. wacjak says:

    You rightfully put Ambassador Wondu. We all have to blame God. Why did he have to allow the enemies of Garang to kill him that very time. He would have given him more years to bring South Sudan to stage that we have all been hoping for. But unfortunately, Kiir and his blind followers are taking us no where.

    Like

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